I saw M.X. Oberg's Stratosphere Girl a few weeks ago, and it was my second viewing of the film. I'm not sure why it wasn't particularly memorable for me the first time I saw it, but I have to say that my second viewing left a definable impression. This could be perhaps because I was approaching the film from a different perspective this time.
The actual plot of the film is not so pleasant, and not really what involved me the most. It's essentially about a young manga-comic artist, Angela, moving from Europe to Japan to look for her missing friend who is caught up in the world of "high-class" prostitution, or "hostesses"; whatever you want to call it, it basically spells blatant exploitation.
It's not so much the story though which has left an impression on me, but the way it was told: sensually and evocatively. There were moments when I felt the film spilled over into cliche and depthlessness, but even so, there is something genuinely moving about it. I like how it's a study of contrasts and spaces: one moment we're in the garish, somewhat dingy streets, the next we are in a blindingly white and light bedroom, devoid of any texture besides the naked body, which seems even more vulnerable against the stark white. So I came away from this film thinking about texture and form, rather than plot or narrative. Almost like what I feel when examining a sculpture. There is also a hallucinatory structure and texture to this film that reminds me of staring at a painting in a museum for a long time and then trying to focus your eyes again, back to "reality", once you step outside.
There were moments when I felt the film was almost "speaking" in synchronisation with some of Lady Gaga's music videos. Have you seen in particular the music video for "Bad Romance"? The same aesthetic and ideological significance is evident in this film; and it's no coincidence that both Gaga's video and the film are about the buying and selling of the female body.
As usual, there is something more, something else at the tip of my tongue which I can't name yet. Ah well, what did you think of it, if you've seen it?
All images are from the film's official website.